Your Mother Needs A Foot Massage

Sam Pierstorff

Your Mother Needs a Foot Massage

"Heaven," Muslims say, "lies at the feet of mothers."   
But dear mothers, I have seen your bare feet, 
blackened by the parking lot as you fetch your sandals after salat.

Your whole lives in India and Pakistan,  
in the Middle East and Africa spent shoeless, 
walking through deserts and jungles,  
gravel roads, across river beds 
to scrub laundry in the rapids.

And the damage is severe: 

                  the chipped dry skin of your heels 
                  flake like old wood infested with termites— 

                  the scales of your feet like crushed lizards— 

                  the dark soles like tires after a drag race 
                  across broken glass.

And yes, some say nail polish is haram, 
but your toes look like brass door knobs 
from the henna you smeared on instead. 
Should toenails look as rusty as ancient steel pipes?

A podiatrist might diagnose rigor mortis in your feet—
though you call it an Islamic pedicure, so pious 
you haven’t cut your big yellow toe nails in years.

But we are your children, so we know the miles 
you have walked with your family on your back,
      the weight and pressure of this world 
pushing down so hard on your shoulders 
that you have left footprints
deep in the soil of our lives.

And we vow to follow your footsteps 
until we die because we know 
where they will lead
and we know that you will never
let us go astray.

Sam Pierstorff was born in 1975 to a Syrian Muslim mother and an American military father from Kentucky. After their divorce, Sam was raised alongside his older brother, a tough-as-nails mother, and a parakeet named Tiki in Orange County, California.

Sam received his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing before becoming the youngest Poet Laureate ever appointed in the state of California when he was selected to the position in 2004 by the city of Modesto.

Sam currently teaches English at Modesto Junior College where he is also the founding editor of Quercus Review, a national journal of prose and poetry, and host of Modesto’s monthly poetry slam, “Slam on Rye.” His debut poetry collection, Growing Up in Someone Else’s Shoes, was published last year. He recently won an Award of Merit from the California Association of Teachers of English. He used to benchpress competitively (up to 355 lbs.) before hurting his back. Now he swims daily and only lifts his three children when he must.

One Comment on “Your Mother Needs A Foot Massage”

  1. arya oveissi says:

    All you need is true love …love for everything ,that GOD has created..from a dew to the waves, no different to the eye of the beholder.